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Supply chain

More than stockpiling needed to limit disruption of no-deal Brexit, warns generics manufacturers' body

Responding to reports of a leaked government document saying that there is not enough time to stockpile medicines in time for Brexit deadline, Warwick Smith says “stockpiling is not a panacea”.

Medicine stockpiling alone will not ensure a disruption-free no-deal Brexit, the British Generic Manufacturers Association (BGMA) has said.

Responding to press reports on published on 12 June 2019  detailing a leaked Cabinet Office note that warned there is insufficient time to build up the necessary medicines stocks if the UK leaves the EU without a deal on 31 October 2019, Warwick Smith, director general of the BGMA, said the existing stockpiling had already been carried out “at considerable cost to the industry”.

“We recognise that stockpiling is not a panacea: the possible disruption due to a no-deal Brexit is such that a range of mitigating measures will need to be put in place by all concerned,” he added in a statement on 12 June 2019.

The UK government wrote to pharmaceutical manufacturers and NHS bodies in December 2018, asking drug firms to maintain a rolling six-week stockpile of medicines for six weeks to prepare for the UK leaving the EU without a deal.

Then, in April 2019, manufacturers were asked to keep the stockpiles “in place but on hold” after a Brexit delay was agreed with the EU for a second time.

The press reports say the leaked note was prepared for a Cabinet meeting, but never discussed.

The note is said to warn that it would take “six to eight months” to ensure that “adequate arrangements are in place to build stock piles” by 31 October 2019.

A statement from the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, which represents drug manufacturers, said: “Companies are doing everything they can to protect the supply of medicines whatever the Brexit outcome, and have been doing so for the last two years.

“Increasing stocks of medicines has been just one aspect of company contingency planning — plans also include things like changing and adding new supply routes and duplicating manufacturing processes. We continue to work with [the] government to take the best approach in preparing for all scenarios.”

A statement from the Department for Health and Social Care said: “We’ve been working with the pharmaceutical industry for the last 18 months on no-deal contingency planning and continue to do so.”

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2019.20206675

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